Merkley Announces Opposition to Proposed AUMF

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement regarding the proposed Corker-Kaine Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF):

“The current AUMF, which was passed over 17 years ago in the wake of September 11 to root out Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, has been stretched beyond recognition to facilitate an ever-expanding war in – so far – 14 countries. I agree with my colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Congress needs to reassert its constitutionally mandated authorities to debate and vote on a new AUMF. However, I have deep concerns that the version that is being put before the committee instead permanently forfeits those authorities.

“First, this new AUMF has no sunset clause – meaning it can be used indefinitely by President Trump and his successors to continue expanding the scope and geography of U.S. military action around the world. The absence of a sunset clause all but guarantees that this AUMF will be stretched by the executive branch to avoid coming to Congress for future authorizations, which is completely unacceptable.

“Further, and even more concerning, this legislation allows the President to unilaterally expand the scope of the authorization, both in the specific groups being targeted and in the countries in which the United States takes military action. The clear constitutional vision was for Congress and Congress alone to have the authority to initiate war. This AUMF stands that on its head, giving the President that power and leaving Congress with the impossible task of overriding Presidential actions. This AUMF would be an abdication of our most solemn congressional responsibility. In our democracy, the American people must have a say on whether their sons and daughters are sent into combat.

“I cannot support an authorization that gives a blank check for endless war and turns Congress’s power over the President. The Senate should indeed debate a new AUMF, but it must be one that has built-in timelines, mandates congressional approval, and limits the scope of the conflict.”